United defender Martinez wins the World Cup with Argentina

Sunday 18 December 2022 18:52

Lisandro Martinez has become the fifth player to win the World Cup during his Manchester United career, as Argentina beat France in the Qatar 2022 final on penalties following a dramatic 3-3 draw.

Martinez may have been an unused substitute in the final, but he can still feel very proud of his contribution to his country's cause throughout the tournament.

The same can be said for his United team-mate Raphael Varane, who reportedly overcame the effects of an illness to start for the eventual runners-up and play until extra-time when he was replaced.

Kylian Mbappe’s hat-trick for Varane's side was enough to take the game to a penalty shootout. However, Kingsley Coman and Aurelien Tchouameni missed their spot kicks, before Gonzalo Montiel scored the winner to give Argentina their third World Cup overall and a coveted first one for their talisman, Lionel Messi.

Martinez, furthest left in the photo, celebrates with his Argentina team-mates as Messi lifts the World Cup.

In the first half, Manchester City attacker Julian Alvarez came the closest to scoring early on, after getting on the end of a ball over the top, but he looked to be in an offside position. Two minutes later, Brighton’s Alexis Mac Alister fired a shot from long distance straight into the arms of Hugo Lloris.

Messi then took his first step towards World Cup immortality, whern he converted the first of the contest's three penalties inside 120 minutes to give Argentina the lead. Barcelona’s Ousmane Dembele brought down former United winger Angel Di Maria inside the area midway through the first half and the referee immediately pointed to the spot. Messi stepped up and sent Lloris the wrong way to make it 1-0.

Moments later, La Albiceleste’s talisman Messi showed more magic by sending the ball over the top of Varane to Mac Alister. The Argentina midfielder sprinted past the backline and slid the ball over to Di Maria who finished past Lloris to double his team's advantage for the half-time interval.

By the end of the half, Lionel Scaloni’s side were seemingly cruising to glory, leading 2-0 and boasting 59 per cent of the possession, whereas the French had yet to register a single shot.

After the break, Argentina started the second half just like they ended the first, with total domination of the game. Mac Alister was presented with another chance for La Albiceleste when Di Maria’s ball found him but Lloris came off his line to stop the effort.

The game looked to be over for France, until one moment against the run of play threw them a lifeline. Nicolas Otamendi brought down Mbappe, with just ten minutes to go. The referee immediately pointed to the spot and Mbappe stepped up to put the ball past Emiliano Martinez to pull one back.

And just two minutes later, substitute Kingsley Coman lifted the ball over the top of the Argentina defence and, with a first-time strike, Mbappe beat Martinez again to level the score at 2-2 and bring the initial 90 minutes to a most unexpected end.

Varane passes on some advice to France right-back Jules Kounde.

Neither side created any clear chances in the first half of extra time. Argentina had the closest effort, when substitute Lautaro Martinez got on the end of another Mac Alister pass, but his shot was blocked heroically by Dayot Upamecano and Varane bravely headed Montiel's follow-up over the bar to keep the game level.

Messi made it 3-2 in the 108th minute when he scored on the rebound after Lautaro Martinez’s initial shot was saved by Lloris. Despite Jules Kounde’s best efforts to clear the ball, goal-line technology confirmed Argentina's third strike was in.

But Mbappe once again brought the game level, two minutes from the end of extra time, when a penalty was awarded after his shot hit an Argentina player’s arm in the box. He stepped up, sealed his hat-trick to equalise, and took the game to a shootout.

Mbappe is only the second player to score a World Cup final hat-trick but unlike Geoff Hurst in 1966, he was on the losing side.

First to the spot was Mbappe, and for the third time, he scored from 12 yards to open the tally. Messi calmly slotted past Lloris to make it 1-1. Coman followed for the French, but had his penalty saved by Martinez and suddenly Argentina had an advantage. Roma’s Paulo Dybala was next and he put the ball straight down the middle.

Real Madrid’s Aurelien Tchoumeni attempted to aim for the bottom left corner, but his spot kick for France went wide of the post and Argentina were truly in the driver’s seat now. Juventus midfielder Leandro Paredes made it 3-1, before Randal Kolo Muani was emphatically able to give his side some hope at 3-2. Finally, Montiel stepped up and sent Lloris the wrong way to finally end what was arguably the greatest World Cup final of all time.

Argentina had prevailed over France, making Martinez a World Cup winner and giving Varane a runners-up medal to go with his gold one from four years ago.


The five Reds who have won the global game's greatest tournament while at the club are:

Sir Bobby Charlton (England, 1966)
John Connelly (England, 1966)
Nobby Stiles (England, 1966)
Paul Pogba (France, 2018)
Lisandro Martinez (Argentina, 2022)

These eight players won the World Cup either before or after their spells with United:

Fabien Barthez (France, 1998)
Laurent Blanc (France, 1998)
Kleberson (Brazil, 2002)
Gerard Pique (Spain, 2010)
Juan Mata (Spain, 2010)
Victor Valdes (Spain, 2010)
Bastian Schweinsteiger (Germany, 2014)
Raphael Varane (France, 2018).